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Office fashion: raw denim Add to ...

Jean geeks, jeaniuses, denim devotees. Whatever you want to call them, they're a unique subset of people, mostly men, who analyze and obsess over every stitch, rivet and weft where most of us would be happy enough to just find a good fit.

While they may not be fashion-obsessed - Lars Nilsson who? - they apply the same job-driven type-A behaviour to their niche dungarees. And their latest thing is raw denim.

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Why all the fuss? Well, raw denim refers to unwashed, untreated denim that, rather than being pre-distressed, will fade over time and mould to the wearer's body. There is no need, in other words, for artful artificial creasing (a.k.a. "whiskering"); every wrinkle, stain or light patch becomes a badge of self-made pride.

And since we're on the subject of niche denim, selvedge is the "self edge" that can be found on the inside of a jean's outer seam (look for it when you turn up the cuff); for purists, selvedge is non-negotiable as it attests to supreme quality and appears only when the denim is made on smaller-production shuttle looms.

I have a male friend who bought a pair of A.P.C. raw-denim jeans last year and spent well over a month trying to break them in. He rode his bike in the rain wearing them. He slept in them night after night. He may even have showered in them. But only after getting them to fit just right did he attempt to wear them to the office - and only on a Friday. In a suit-and-tie environment (he's a lawyer), jeans are still jeans after all.

The beauty of raw denim, however, is that its inherent crispness, hole-free surface and deep indigo hue translate to a polished look that - client meetings and enforced dress codes notwithstanding - can be passable as work attire, especially when worn with an equally crisp shirt and dark jacket.

Go with a classic brogue lace-up (see Ask Mr. Smith for pointers in this area) or desert boot rather than sneaker. Above all else, avoid a flashy belt.

Ties or pocket squares are optional.

Who knows, your higher-ups might be denimists too, in which case they'll appreciate your commitment and attention to detail. As for workplaces where such jeans are still considered inappropriate, I hate to say this, but you've been given a raw deal.

 

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